tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC November 21, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
scary, scary. i know what i'm thankful for this year. that was just a dream. have a happy and safe thanksgiving, everyone. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. let's play "hardball." good evening i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start with this. being right means never having to say you're sorry. the hard right isn't about to say they need to get more moderate. their staking to their attitude, taxes, the works. the people who hate to lose are
blaming the right. the people who hate the center almost just as much as the left are saying they're right and they're going to not budge an inch. this looks like a fight with legs and not a bad spectator sport for progressives as napoleon once said, never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake. robert traynham and erin pikes. this should be an interesting match-up, you two. let's talk about this situation. i want to show you a tape from deny senior on "morning joe," a foreign adviser to mitt romney. he took on mitt romney critics have been filing on him. >> tens of thousands of people, you could hear the top ten surrogates at the event. i'm backstage with some of them, i won't mention their names but talking about romney like he's reagan. you know, the debate performances were the best debate performance of any republican nominee in presidential history. this guy was iconic. they were talking about him, because they believed he was going to win in four, five days. in fact, some of them were
talking about transition to position itself for a romney cabinet. >> first to jump -- >> i won't say who they are. they were on television, the body was -- unbelievable. five, six days later. absolutely eviscerating him. >> there you go, it's calling being two-faced. it has to do -- people at headquarters, they show up at election night, unless the guy or woman loses and they get excited about the guy near election night because they want a job. they want something. they want to be loved by the winner. then they treat the guy like a ticket at off-track betting on the floor you're stomping around on. is that the best case against the case being made against the republican party, it's a bunch of people just not loyal? that's what he's saying. >> absolutely, chris. look, i've been through this time and time again, that people are measuring the drapes before the first debate ends, especially if the nominee does a very good job. >> now they're measuring the crepe. >> true. mitt romney unfortunately never
had any -- a loyal following, if you will, except for the folks in boston. the conservatives never trusted him. they didn't even trust him when he got the republican nomination back in the spring of this year. the point is these individuals are opportunists, both on the republican side and also on the democratic side. they don't care about loyalty. they don't care about making sure that the best guy wins. what they care about is a paycheck. it's despicable, quite frankly. >> erin, let's take a look at this from both sides. looks like the hard right is saying, stop pushing us. it's not our fault. this guy wasn't a great candidate. moderates and pragmatic people are saying, oh, no, it's just -- you're too far right, too tough on women, minorities latinos, young people. take a look at this guy, chris chocola, president of the conservative club for growth. he wrote today, quote, if you're a republican who yearns for the
days of arlen specter and charlie crist. if you prefer republican party of toomey, rubio and cruz, you should be leery of the folks in washington deciding which republicans are the most electable. you have this guy pushing back and saying that people the grassroots, the tea party people, they should be picking the candidates. don't try to get them away from picking the people like they did mourdock, akin, and some of the real crazies. >> that's true. a lot of the republicans who lost, chris -- >> which group? oh, i see. go ahead. >> george allen was a retread. denny rehberg has been around a long time. a lot were chosen by john cornyn, goading candidates, or charlie crist out of a safe governor's chair because he wanted what he thought were the strongest candidates possible. some electorates were raging against the machine. it didn't matter where they stood on an ideological spectrum. looking for candidates who are younger, younger generation coming to the fore on their own.
i think republicans will be more successful if they do that. >> can i say -- >> is he defending the crazier people like mourdock and akin and those people? is he defending the ones who are the most absurd? is he or is he not? >> he did not defend akin or christine o'donnell. he was saying he wants to stay away from candidates like that. but the reason some of those candidates like christine o'donnell won in 2010 and todd akin this time, is because these electorates didn't want some other candidate put in front of them. they were raging against the establishment here. >> but -- >> i'm not sure -- do you have a formula, robert? is there a best way to pick candidates? by a couple of guys at the downtown club, the special club where only the top business guys meet and five and ten get together and say, it's going to be joe because we like joe and it's his turn, or the people with the scruffier crowds out in
the boondocks to get -- they really care ideologically and they want the pure thing. who should pick the candidates in the republican party? >> let's go back to the basics. the people should decide who the republican and democratic nominees will be. when you take a look at how it's been jerry-rigged, sharron angle in nevada, compromise unfortunately has been such a dirty word right now. in, in fact, you're a moderate republican you're a turncoat or rhino. we have to stop this and say if you are an arlen specter or rudman or scott brown, you are also welcome into the party. because you may be pro-choice, pro gay rights, whatever the case may be, you're welcome. to sit here in washington, d.c. around a table and a thing of scotch and determine who the republican nominee is going to be is absolutely ludicrous and ridiculous. we need to go back to the basics of letting the best person win the primary -- >> you are talking in circles.
i'm trying to figure out why the region party tends to have had an unusual load of crazy people running to the point they disturb the image of the party. mourdock hurt romney. let's be honest here. akin hurt romney. sharron angle hurt the party and still hurts the party. i think people like michele bachmann still hurt the party. allen west hurts the people. these people are so far over i will argue they make the republican party look whacky and loony as steve schmitz said the other day. >> i'll tell you would -- go ahead, erin. >> i was going to say let's go back to dan's first comment. dan is a smart guy but that was naive of him to say. look, no one liked mitt romney to begin with. people don't like mitt romney now. he had a good first debate and so people thought, oh, maybe he actually has a chance. but the republican party never liked mitt romney 37 they never felt in love with him. he happened to be the establishment guy who was going
to get the job. you look to the 2016 field of republican candidates and a lot of the electorate loves those people. like marco rubio. the electorate loves him. i'm sorry, i think dan was very off on those comments. >> chris, there's something deeper here we haven't talked about -- >> let's start with something simple. let's assume the republican party wants to rebuild and to be a four quarter offense, they want to compete in the northeast, southeast, midwest and the west. let's assume that. are you saying rubio is a better candidate to compete, a good candidate to compete in the northeast? where would he win in the northeast? i'm curious when you say that, erin. i'm not making you into a republican or any add volunteer cat but when you say he's the future, what states are they talking about marco rubio winning north of the mason dixon line? what states? >> well, that i don't have the answer to, but i'm not on his campaign, so i have no idea.
>> no, just analyze it. if somebodies he's -- >> you can't. >> -- the future, i don't get it. >> chris, my point is generally this look, republican -- the republican primary elected -- electorate didn't really like mitt romney, right? i mean, so -- but the democrats always loved obama bomb. how do you beat a guy who became an american icon in 2008 with a guy no one really liked? >> who do they like in the republican party? >> that's what i'm telling you they didn't like -- >> who do they like? >> i'll tell you who they like. they really like jeb bush but, unfortunately, his last name is a ball and chain around his neck. i want to go back to your earlier point -- >> how do you make this assumption they like him if he has a bad name? >> i'll get to -- >> will they vote for him? you're saying they like him but they wouldn't vote for him. >> no, i'm -- >> what do you mean a ball around his chain? >> bush. >> i know. that means they won't vote for him. >> okay. maybe -- i don't know that. >> i thought like meant you voted for that guy. that's why your party has all
kinds of problems. necessity don't know -- the danger problem for the republican party is what they deeply believe won't sell. >> a larger point is the hard right has never legitimized this president. they have never said he's an american, like he is. they've never said he's a christian, like is he. it's this whole legitimate -- not necessarily respecting the office of the president and also not respecting this man. i think that's one of the main reasons you see the hard right coming out, like sharron angle. >> let me tell you why -- why would -- do you think this country is ready to elect a president who doesn't believe in science, who doesn't believe in climate change, who basically doesn't believe in any kind of help to help people who came here illegally to become legal, who basically has no sensitivity about this birther stuff being thrown around by people -- his allies, like donald trump, do you think a person who basically takes the position that mitt romney ended up taking on so many fronts? we shouldn't have any compromise on taxes, do you think that would be a majority party in the near future? >> no. >> isn't it the problem of the party's platform that says, life begins at conception, they
should have rights of property and all that stuff at conception. aren't these ideas a bit loony? isn't that the party's problem, not this -- the current issue but who they are intellectually? >> are you addressing that to me? >> yeah, robert. who hates gays. >> i don't know if i would say it's loony but certainly out of step with the majority of america. look, barack obama won 56 million votes across this country. the reason why is because they listened to this national conversation over the last 18 months and they decided barack obama best represented their interests. >> we also have a terrible economy. a weak economy is the only reason they're in the game. i'm going to end this conversation because i don't think it's been resolved, erin, and i -- erin, you made a good case for younger people. that's the future of every party. go younger. the problem is they have to decide ideologically can they compete for seats in
pennsylvania, maybe not massachusetts, but new jersey, connecticut, new england? are they going to give you up a portion of the country and say, we're going to make our votes in the south? that's a problem they have right there. they've given up both coasts, by the way. that's my argument, not yours. robert, thank you for coming in tonight. happy thanksgiving. you should be in cars heading home. erin, you've been doing great this year. great coverage. coming up, republicans aren't the only ones fighting among themselves. some progressives are warning president obama, they don't like this debt reduction deal, they'll let people hear. the big question is, so what? we're not having any more campaigns. anyway, also the republicans' obsession with secession. 115,000 in texas, filling up a lot of the football stadiums, have signed secession petition. these 21st century secession get more in federal money than they pay in taxes. with the full feast is in the side show. let me finish tonight with who
the non-habit forming sleep-aid from the makers of nyquil. jesse jackson is facing a hearing of potential misuse of campaign funds. he, jesse jackson, was participating in a pay to play scheme with rod blagojevich to name barack obama's open senate seat. jackson was re-elected to the chicago district this month. we'll be right back. my insurance rates are probably gonna double.
each on petitions to secede. alabama, florida, louisiana, florida, texas leads the pack with more than 115,000 signatures by itself to, quote, peacefully grant the state of texas to withdraw from the united states of america and create its own new government. as "the washington post" dana milbank put it in a recent column, if obama were serious about being a good steward of the nation's finances, he would let them go. did you hear that? because many of those states are what dana milbank said are government takers, they take more in federal money than they pay in taxes. alabama gets $1.71 from the federal government for every $1 paid in taxes. louisiana gets $1.45 in federal aid for every $1 they pay in taxes. author of "bush's brain," and james braxton peterson associate professor of english at lehigh, and michael steele, former chair of the rnc and a political analyst here at msnbc. gentlemen, this is an
extraordinary thing but let's talk about this, professor peterson, recent "daily beast" article you talked about using maps in 1859 to america today where states are petitioning to secede following obama's election. you write they were pro-slavery or open to slavery. this same collective of states were required to be racially segregated. it so happens these are the states that house the largest concentration of republican voters and the highest number of those citizens that have signed petitions for secession. these are recidivists, right? these are recidivists? they are a problem with joining the union and now they're doing it again. they're back in the same old problem area. they want out. they really don't have too much thinking going on with it. your thoughts. >> i'm not sure if they necessarily want out. they want to make the point they don't agree with the direction that president obama has been taking in this country. >> is that what it says on the petition? is that what it says -- >> no, no. on the petition it says they
want out. >>, yeah i'm glad they're saying that. >> i'm not sure -- well, to make the case against this president. i don't know if they fully understand what it means to secede can and some states with the differentials cannot economically exist without federal support and federal intervention. they don't want all their services to go away. the point i'm trying to make in the piece is that when you look at the history of that cartography, the history of the mapping, it's not ironic or it shouldn't be surprising to folk these are the regions we're seeing most resident to president obama, most entrenched in the radical right of the republican party and most interested in seceding from the nation. >> my hunch is they know exactly what they're saying. they may not think it's practical but it's their sentiment. but that's what they want. they would cheer if they got separated from the union because it's the same, we're against
washington, we don't like the federal government, we like our institutions, we're more conservative and we like the cause still, if you don't like me saying the terrible phrase, we're still sentimentally with the cause. we like to watch "gone with the wind" again and again and again. >> wow. >> i don't think they're appalled by robert e. lee. he's their hero. stonewall jackson are their heroes. you know that's true. who are they rooting for in war movies? who are they rooting for, the north? you've got to be kidding me. >> why aren't you calling it what it is, which is racism. this other stuff -- >> you can call it that. i didn't call it that. i just called it rebel attitude. you call it what you want to call it. >> this other stuff is nothing more than a cover for it. lbj said when he signed the civil rights act the democrats lost the south for a generation. he clearly underestimated. if you look at numbers on the map it's the white south that voted against the president. the professor has just made the point they clearly love these things coming from washington, so what is the reason? the reason is race.
they do not want an african-american president. it's time -- i'd like to frankly suggest that this is the love it or leave it crowd under george bush when the progressives were complaining. i'd like to suggest modestly they go ahead and leave and stop embarrassing the rest of us. >> we have with us the former chair of the republican -- let me ask this, 89% of mississippi, whites voted against obama. 85% of alabama whites. was there a tinge of the old cause there? >> i don't know if it was a tinge of the old cause. they have differences with the president. differences with the president. i think this whole thing is silly -- >> do you think they're laughing when they sign these things? >> no. the people who signed it verse the rest of the state. it's not like you have this -- texas is a big state, so 110,000 people signing in texas, it's not as big a deal as you think it is, or would like to make it. i think there's a lot ado about nothing. so, let's enjoy our thanksgiving turkey -- >> you're here so you have to suffer through the humiliation of your party. let's go to james peterson here. professor, it seems to me somebody came up to me like they did -- we all have this, somebody comes up with a clipboard, they have a petition they want you to sign. you be polite and you say, let me see what it says. this says, i want to secede from the united states, 110,000 people, enough to fill the cotton bowl. you say it's for real. they are not going to succeed for the very reasons that the
professor -- >> do you think that they are laughing when they sign these things? >> no, i think it's an element of the people who signed it versus the state. texas is a big state. it's not as big of a deal as you think it is or would like to make it. i think there's a lot to do about nothing. it's not going to happen. >> okay. let me go back to you. >> let's enjoy our thanksgiving turkey. >> you're here so you have to deal with this humiliation of your party. let me go to james peterson. if somebody comes up to you with a clipboard and they have a petition that they want you to sign and you say, what does it say? and this makes me want to oh secede from the united states. what is this? >> chris, listen, like jim said, it's an expression of a certain kind of racialized rhetoric
directed at this president and directed at ways in which this country is becoming more multicultural country. it was a referendum on the fact you can no longer have a coalition of simply white men from the south directing politics in this country. the voting demographic has opened up. it will continue to open up as we become blacker and browner and all other different shades of american colors here. it's going to be -- it's going to be frightening to some of these folks in some of these states. i agree with michael. it's a rhetorical statement instead of actual movement. >> let me go to james moore on this. i look at the way it looks, i went to school in the south, chapel hill, i different part of the south, a bit more intellectual, culturally liberal
but it looks like a differentiation, in northern carolinas, upper 30s. the new south as opposed to old south. there's a big difference in attitudes. >> also a reflection in education. in stuff doesn't come out of a vacuum, obviously. these are beliefs handed down from families and role models and it takes a while for these things to change. what is astonishing to me, however, that here we are at this date in this time and we're still dealing with this kind of thing. there is, chris -- by the way, i wanted to point out there's a place in southeastern brazil called new texas made up descendents of people who left the south after the civil war. they're now known as el confederatos. it would be great if they headed that way, too. >> one last question to james peterson. what number would you get scared? where are you on this, on secession. you say 100,000 is nothing. >> listen, the city of austin is
trying to secede from the state of texas, right? >> that's a good move. >> there's people in all of these states we're talking about. no number that will scare me because either they ultimately sec seed or come to their senses and see we're greater as a union. >> they're going nowhere. enjoy your turkey. >> the chairman ruled against secession. thank you for coming in. coming up, the right wing conspiracy machine gains speed. read all about it. president obama, catch this, this gets worse tonight, stole the election. wait until you hear that election. the "sideshow" where that belongs is next . how can you get back pain relief that lasts up to 16 hours?
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welcome back to "hardball." time for the "sideshow," which is where this item belongs. dean chambers who launched the website unskewed pulse to show mitt romney actually won the election is at it again. he has a new web side pointing to four states he says obama won by fraud. ohio, pennsylvania, virginia and florida. chambers admits, how swell of him, his evidence is circumstantial. he points to polling locations such as in philadelphia where not a single voter chose romney in 59 voting divisions but slate's dave weigel reports john mccain lost 57 philly divisions without a vote four years ago. so much for his evidence. next, mitt romney is back to life as a regular joe. jimmy kimmel, for one, seems fascinated at the sight of mitt romney pumping gas. >> mitt romney was seen pumping
gas at a gas station in la jolla. he looks like he's been on a three day root beer float. he's guber from the andy griffin show pumping gas. >> mitt romney was at disneyland where he was taking rides with family members. and it was tweeted, i gist h just saw him, too dressed up to have fun. then he skimmed tomorrow land, don't you think? finally, we bring you chris christie like you have never seen him before, thanks to david letterman. >> did you see him yesterday? he was testifying before a senate subcommittee. here's governor chris christie. >> and one of the reasons why you have 30 republican governors in america and why we're the
only organization to add republican strength, we lost the presidency, we went up from 29 to 30 republican governors is because people see us getting things done, like this. getting things done for people. and that's what we have to exercise and talk about. i don't think this is a core philosophical examination that we have to go through. what this is is we are doing our jobs. >> how did they fake that or did they fake up? up next, how much negotiating room are republicans going to give president obama? are they really willing to go over the fiscal cliff? the 49th anniversary of a moment no one my age will ever forget, dallas. do me an honor. "jack kennedy, elusive hero" is out. a great gift for the holidays. you're watching "hardball", a place for politics. if you are one of the millions of men
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i'm craig melvin. here is what is happening. a critical moment for the deal to stop attacks from gaza and confident that the impact will not be affected by walkoffs claimed for thursday night and black friday. and the annual turkey pardon at the white house went off without a hitch. the tradition started back in 1963. back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." with a victory behind him, democrats are feeling more confident in talks with republicans about the fiscal cliff. many on the left have been vocal in calling for the president not to buckle on the issues of tax increases on the rich and no cuts to entitlements like social
security and medicare. many key players are talking more defiantly on these issues since the election. nancy pelosi for example flatly said she wouldn't go along with a deal that didn't raise tax rates on the rich. let's watch the former speaker. >> we've seen talk about a possible compromise that would leave rates the same but cap deductions for high income earners. is that something that's acceptable? >> no. >> not at all? no way? >> i mean, the president made it very clear in his campaign that there is not enough -- there are not enough -- what you just described is a formula and a blueprint for hampering our future. >> okay. senate majority leader harry reid said social security should be completely off the table. let's watch the senate leader. >> i've told anyone that will
listen, including everyone in the white house, including the president, that i am not going to be part of having social security as part of these talks. >> okay. the president is feeling the pressure to stick to his guns but how much room does he have to reach a compromise before the end of the year? and will the left support one if he does? most importantly, what is the risk to the country of not reaching a deal in the near future? jared bernstein, senior fellow at the senior of budget and policy priorities and an msnbc contributor, vice president of biden's chief economic adviser and joan walsh, editor-at-large of salon. i was trying to get the facts and understand it. the congressional budget office, nonpartisan says if we go off the cliff january 1st which means we let those taxes terminate, the tax rates to go back up again for everybody back up there where they were before this past president was here f we let those cuts go in definition and else places, there will be $560 billion cut in the deficit but a 4% cut in the gdp throwing us technically right into recession. is that you're belief if we don't do anything between now and january 1st this country
will go into recession, jared? >> it is my belief if we go over the cliff and stay over the cliff. if we're able to hammer out a deal, even if that deal isn't completely stamped and approved on january 1st, there is the possibility of a very temporary trip over the fiscal slope, if you will, and then a reversal. but if we go over the cliff and stay over the cliff i'm pretty sure we'd be looking at recession. >> what about the impact on world markets and money markets in new york, et cetera, et cetera, what would it do about the confidence of the united states' ability to deal with fiscal matters, if we go over the cliff in any way? >> yes. if you look at those markets today you'll see they're pricing in a solution. that's why treasury bills have a yield of 1.6%, historical low. if those markets believed, as i described it, a deal was in the offing just wasn't signed on january 1st we'd be okay with a temporary trip over the cliff,
which i think would be a terrible outcome but would be better than a total can kick. if we go over and stay over, markets will punish us. >> let me with-g with joan. when you look at these numbers and the decision -- let's start with the issue. last summer you and i went through this with the debt ceiling that came apart. there was a good deal from the republicans and they walked away with from it. the president wanted $800 billion in revenue and they got a ton of spending cuts. this year we got it from "the wall street journal" yesterday morning, they'll settle for a 1-4, in other words take $1 in tax increases for $4 in spending cuts. jared and i were talking this afternoon about the possibility, what i think would be a liberal deal, 50/50. trillion in increases, mainly from the rich, and a trillion in cuts. what kind of a deal do you think is fair? >> first of all, that deal could be fair it just depends on what gets cut and what goes up. that's what we're all arguing about, i think. i have been -- for 20 years i have been watching my democratic presidents reach across the aisle for compromise and get their arms broken. so i think it's time for people
like myself on the left to say, we really will not -- we don't want to see a deal that cuts made care and cuts social security. i think that the democrats have a lot of leverage right now. as jared says, it's a fiscal slope, it is not a cliff. if we let the tax cuts expire, they expire. then democrats come back in the early next year with middle class tax cut and restore the tax cuts for the middle class only. they leave that top 2% with their taxes up. that's smart politics. i think -- >> what about economically? >> i don't -- >> i want him to follow up on that, what you think would happen if joan's scenario played out. >> come on, jared. >> i think if it were clear to markets and clear to employers and all the other economic actors out there that a deal like joan described was in the offing, i think we would basically be fine. listen, the leverage is really
important. joan has a point. the idea that income tax rates have to expire on the top 2% of households makes a ton of sense and a very important development here. it's bad for grover norquist but good for america and should be the end of asymmetrical tax policies where rates only go down, they never go up. that said, look, there may need to be some entitlements on the table. the president has already done so in his 2013 budget with medicare and medicaid. niece are cuts largely to providers. they don't affect beneficiaries, particularly vulnerable beneficiaries and that's okay. >> the left wants -- they won the election. which is fair. i think you should get a 60/40 deal after an election, even if a divided government. if you win the election, you should get the best deal. my best deal would be the president put his teeth marks into the neck of the rich right now and say, your rates are going up, buddy. i'm not going to go sorting
around looking for deductions and screw the temples and churches around the world. i still want you to give to charitable groups but i'm taking your rate up where it was under clinton when you were fat and happy so you have no complaints. we're going back to where we were in the '90s. i think if you did that, i think those on the left would say, i'll do that if he does that. if he pulls back and says, geez, we'll just go with deductions. the left will say, if that's all you're doing to them, you can't do anything to us. >> you can't do it with deductions. you absolutely can't do it. >> even if you could -- >> even if you could -- >> even if you could, he's right. >> joan, your thoughts. >> even if he could, you're right. we can't do it that way. we shouldn't do it that way. on the other side, i don't think, though, even getting top tax rates going up and capital
gains rates going up, i don't think the left should be silent while we say rate -- if we raised the eligibility age for medicare. that's a terrible idea. it actually increases the deficit in the long run, at least for states and local governments. and it takes the healthiest people, the youngest old, if you will, out of the medicare pool and leaves the medicare pool with the sickest oldest old. i mean, it's absolutely crazy policy and really mean. >> respond to that. isn't she right on the merits that you don't save anything when you force people to stay away from the hospital or doctor for a couple years? >> i completely agree with what joan said. if i had my druthers we would lower the eligibility rate because medicare is better than the private sector. here's another thing that i think should, i guess, sweeten the deal is one way to put it for progressives and i think it's important for the economy. let's also include a couple measures of jobs programs in a temporary 2013 measures to help -- to take advantage of some of this momentum we already
have in our economy. fiscal relief to states, maybe something off the payroll tax holiday, maybe something on the unemployment insurance. you know, that's another way in which this deal, i think, could look good to people on the left. >> i think a little -- a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, by the way. somebody once said, i forget who. >> mary poppins. >> the three of us could do it. >> stay over an hour and get it done. jared bernstein, joan walsh, congratulations for brilliance again and happy thanksgiving. up next, the art of power from someone who really knew how to use it. there he is, the guy on your $20 bill. "hardball," the place for politics. work hard for a better future. since ameriprise financial was founded back in 1894, they've been committed to putting clients first. helping generations through tough times. good times. never taking a bailout. there when you need them. helping millions of americans over the centuries. the strength of a global financial leader. the heart of a one-to-one relationship. together for your future. ♪
by the way, thomas jefferson's on the $2, not the $20 bill. earlier today we showed you the fun that david letterman had on chris christie's expense last night. as you know, a lot of republicans feel christie hugged president obama a bit too tightly after the hurricane came through. among those who don't share those sentiments are new jersey residents. look at this. a new poll by national research has christie's approval rating sky high, 77%, up from the 50s before this. nobody gets numbers like that. in case you think that numbers comes from smirkey democrats, republicans approve 9-1, again how good policy makes pretty good politics. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] introducing the new dell xps 12.
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[ male announcer ] break from the holiday stress. save on ground shipping at fedex office. we're back. it's a resume no one can hold a candle to, drafter of the declaration of independence, founder of the university of virginia, secretary of state, vice president, president of the united states, thomas jefferson. through all his virtues and faults holds a special place in americans' heart and the subject of a terrific new biography "thomas jefferson" by pulitzer prize winning author, jon meacham. my hero for many years. it seems to me a wonderful biographer like for you to bring to the front of the stage again, someone we haven't thought of for a while and should, why
should we given we're in the age of barack obama? >> because jefferson was a tall, cool cerebral politician who w kennedy and richard nixon in the past. i wanted to recover him as a politician. as someone who, from 1769 until 1809 was all about trying to find solutions. principled solutions to problems in realtime. he would cut a deal, he would make a bargain, as long as it didn't compromise that fundamental principle about the survival and success of republican liberty. and politics and politicians -- politics is always going to be contentio contentious. it doesn't always have to be frustrating. and in his day, it wasn't all that frustrating. >> but i think in your book, you make the point that he didn't mind spending time, like the founding fathers would spend time at the raleigh tavern together, drinking ale and getting to know each other and finding common ground, even if
it was at midnight. is he particularly good at that? obama doesn't like hanging out with the guys, if you will. >> it's one of the most important things our incumbent president can learn from our third president. jefferson, every night congress was in session, he had lawmakers down to the white house. he had all republicans or all federalists, because he didn't want them throwing food at each other, but he wanted them to know him. he wanted them to hear his plans, his agenda. he did not think congress, and we all know this from our own experience, if congress just read about a plan or we'd heard about it someplace else, they weren't going to be invested in it. so he used the table, he used the art of cuisine, of entertaining. those virginia rights of hospitality that he grew up, so really move opinion in his direction. doesn't mean that it created a bipartisan valhalla, it doesn't. but as you know, life is lived in the margins on politics. and every once in a while when you need a vote, you're more
likely to get the benefit of the doubt with somebody with whom you've broken bread and who knows what your eyes look like and what your voice sounds like than you are from some distant, remote figure. >> let's talk about the most important sentence in our country's history. "we hold these truths to be self-evident that man is endowed by his creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." i'm blown away by that, that the pursuit of happiness would be among our rights. and he was a diest, right? his idea of an internal being, of a first cause, if you would -- >> of god. >> -- of a god, was that. what was his notion of human rights? >> he saw that there was a creator god, that there would be a system of rewards and punishments after death, and he did believe that there was divine agency in human history. and so, he was not an evangelical christian. he wasn't a traditional
protestant. he felt that a lot of the post-counsel of niceya theology that sprung up after the first years and first centuries after jesus was, as he once put it, the mere abracadabra of men calling themselves priests of jesus. but he understood. >> what about rights? did he believe rights were god-given. that's the center of our debate. did he think of white quality, white male equality? white land-owning equality? who is in that list that got to be equal. in the eyes of him? >> for him, it was white men. but he also understand that this was an unfolding drama. he knew that that was a promise that had to be fulfilled. and what's so remarkable, what's so remarkable about the american contribution to the conversation about rights and responsibilities is we were the first people to say that our rights, yours and mine, individual's, came from above. came from nature's god or the laws of nature or the creator.
and that if they came from above, then the hand of a king nor the hands of a mob could take it away. >> well said. >> and that is what's so -- that's why they're sacred. >> it's worth reading about. jon, it's worth reading about. the name of the book is "thomas jefferson: the art of power." he once said the whole art of politics was the art of telling the truth. i'll never forget that one. thank you, jon meacham. a great book for the winter, for christmastime. when we return, let me finish with the best first step that president obama should take for a successful second term. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. [ male announcer ] this is bob, a regular guy with an irregular heartbeat. the usual, bob? not today. [ male announcer ] bob has afib:
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let me finish with this tonight. i've long believed that the best decision of barack obama's presidency came before he even took office. it was naming hillary clinton his secretary of state. it did something magical, healing any bad feeling between the two presidential rivals, uniting the democratic party, setting a hopeful course for political maturity, giving not just the president but the country a top drawer, top diplomat to face the world. now it's up to president obama to do it again. he's won a second term. now he needs to make it great, naming john kerry to replace secretary clinton fits that bill. picking susan rice would be good. picking kerry would be better. since thomas jefferson, the post of secretary of state stands alone inhistory. despite its nature, a role holding the most stature, but for the presiden kerry won 252 electoral votback